Keen have long been known for their unique looking walking boots, with their chunky toe rand standing out along with the bright yellow exclamation mark. With that said however, the level of their comfort has also been worthy of note. The Madeira Peak are certainly on the more technical end of Keen’s catalogue, designed for hill and mountain use. So just how well do the Maderia Peak perform when hiking and backpacking across higher level ground in the UK?
– Waterproof full-grain leather upper
– KEEN.DRY ® waterproof breathable membrane
– Direct inject molded PU midsole
– Dual compound rubber outsole
– Full length stability shank
– Integrated PU heel cushion
The Keen Madeira Peak do appear a little more subtle than other Keen footwear as it springs to mind, and they do have rather a robust feel to them. The full grain leather upper is comprised of one piece apart from the small section at the back of the heel. Minimal stitching of course, means that there are less weak points in the upper, with better durability and waterproofness. The stitching found around boot is well done and construction seems solid with extra protection against abrasion given round the back of the heel, over the toe of the boot, and a small rand where the upper meets the sole unit which should take abrasion against rock very well. Smaller details such a the lace eyelets also feel sturdy and built to last.
The sole itself is comprised of an injection moulded PU midsole and dual rubber outsole. This suggests that, again; Keen are perhaps paying focus to longevity – with PU midsoles lasting longer than their EVA counterparts. The outsole looks to use harder rubber on the outer of the tread, in areas that will predominantly wear more quickly such as the heel and edges of the front of the foot. Grip is good across most surfaces, tackling wet rock and grass well. Walking over thick, wet mud did seem to challenge the boots though and perhaps more thicker and deeper lugs on the sole would have given better stability here. Having said that, being aimed at more technical routes where hard and rocky paths are what you expect – the boots do very well.
The sole unit also give the Madeira Peak a good level of support and cushioning. With a PU midsole unit and further PU cushioned heel, walking over uneven ground gave no problems and smaller, sharp rocks didn’t seem to get through and cause discomfort. The extra cushioning in the heel is certainly noticeable on steeper descents and this combined with the padding around the ankle gives a noticeable difference against more minimalist leather boots. In walking across such terrain, sometimes the foot can be overstretched or twisted, but the full length shank in the sole unit worked well to prevent this. Unfortunately, the heel cup didn’t seem to hold quite as well as the rest of the boot managed to support the foot and so there was a degree of rubbing and movement when walking uphill. This was a bit of a shame as, on the flat; it did not present itself as an issue and generally the boots fit well everywhere else, especially across the width of the toe box. It was not problematic enough to cause concern on day walks, but it may begin to become more apparent if the Madeira Peak were used on longer, multi day trips. Initially it led me to question whether there had been a degree of the laces slipping through the eyelets, but upon checking, the lacing system held well throughout the day.
As with a vast majority of similarly targeted boots, the Keen Madeira Peak are designed to be waterproof and use a waterproof, breathable liner. Keen’s own KEEN DRY membrane definitely held back its fair share of heavy rain during one of the days while testing, and crossing streams was no problem either. The fact that the boots are leather will of course mean that they can be treated to help keep the water away from the liner in the first place, but when needed during testing – KEEN DRY performed as you would expect. This time of year doesn’t play too much into the ability to test a particular footwear’s breathability and so it will be hard to comment on that aspect of the membrane until warmer weather returns. It also be interesting to see how long the membrane might be able to last before excessive use causes it to become too heavily soiled to remain as effective. One area in which the Madeira Peak falls slightly short in terms of its resistance to water is the extent of the gusset on the tongue. The gusset is relatively low cut, and so it is more likely that water will creep over the top and into the boot if you were not careful when crossing streams for example.
Overall, the Keen Madeira Peak boots performed well in testing. Certainly capable of use for lower level, and higher level walks in the UK. Sensibly styled, and well made featuring full grain leather and extra protection from abrasion around the boot – they should last well and deal with tougher terrain. Levels of comfort are good with the Madeira Peak with a slightly wider than normal fit and a sole unit that provides good cushioning from the midsole and a degree of stability on uneven ground. At times, the heel cup doesn’t seem to hold when climbing uphill paths and the lug pattern on the outsole could be a little more aggressive/deeper to hold better in wet mud. Despite a low gusseted tongue, Keen’s own waterproof membrane holds back water well thus far if you’re careful in deeper water.